Protein-rich snacks consumed just before bedtime have no impact on the metabolism on women who are physically active, according to a new study conducted by a team from the Florida State University.
The study found consuming protein before bed did not disrupt overnight belly fat metabolism compared to when one eats it during the day. Many previously believed nighttime eating had a strong relationship to weight gain and metabolism. This was especially thought to be true for women.
"For far too long, people have been led to believe that eating before bed causes metabolic disturbances and will make them gain fat," study author Michael Ormsbee, an associate professor in the College of Human Sciences and the associate director of the FSU Institute of Sports Sciences & Medicine, told a news portal. Adding, "However, the data simply does not support this when the food we choose to eat before bed is protein-based and small in size."
Even though previous studies have found protein consumption at nighttime does have benefits, those investigations were more focused on men. For the study, researchers used experimental conditions to study fat metabolism in women weight trainers, who participated in the study.
In the first experiment, participants had to consume a casein protein shake half an hour after working out. Meanwhile, another group took a placebo shake 30 minutes just before going to sleep at night. "We wanted to investigate how drinking a protein shake before bed influenced overnight metabolism of fat in fit women as compared to taking that protein shake at another time of day," Ormsbee told a news portal.
The team made note of each participants' lipolysis to find out if the timing of protein consumption had any impact on a cells' ability to release stored fat into tissue surrounding it. Breath sample measurements were also taken to asses participants' fat oxidation. The study's results showed there are more benefits of a nighttime, high-protein snack than downsides for the women in the study.
"In women who weight train, there are no differences in overnight local belly fat metabolism or whole-body fat burn whether you eat protein in the form of a protein shake during the day post-workout or at night presleep," study co-author and former FSU doctoral student Brittany Allman, told a news portal. Adding, "So, essentially, you can eat protein before bed and not disturb fat metabolism."
Researchers hope the findings change people's perceptions and beliefs surrounding the idea of women's nighttime eating. "There are such bad misconceptions about eating at night, that it will 'make me gain weight' or 'slow my metabolism,'" Allman told a news portal. Adding, "The research suggests that really only holds true if you're eating a ton of calories and they are carbohydrate- and/or fat-laden. There are so many potential beneficial effects of eating protein at night, and it will be extremely important to take all of this science to the community to try to change the outlook of these dietary habits."
The study's findings were originally published in the Journal of Nutrition.